Online Program

Female veterans: Risk and resilience among those who have been deployed

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 : 11:15 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Lisa Brenner, PhD, Department of Veterans Affairs, Denver, CO
Women are playing an increasingly larger role in the United States (US) military. Between October 2001 and December 2009, 154,536 women were deployed at least one time to Iraq or Afghanistan. Many of these women have served in “combat support” positions such as “military police, convoy transportation, intelligence, pilots, medics and mechanics”, which has placed them at risk for exposure to physical and psychological stressors. Moreover, between October 1 2001 and September 30, 2012, over a hundred thousand unique female Veterans from the recent conflicts sought VA health care. Although exposure to deployment-related stressors has impacted the mental and physical health of some female military personnel and Veterans, limited work has been conducted to specifically examine “gender differences” in outcomes (Street et al., 2009), including suicide. Recent work by Kemp and Bossarte (2013) suggests that when comparing female veterans not seeking care within the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), to those seeing care within VHA, to non-veteran women, common and unique characteristics emerge. During this presentation, research regarding suicidal thoughts and behaviors among female military personnel and Veterans will be discussed. In specific, findings from a qualitative study of female Veterans from recent conflicts will be presented. Themes emerged regarding the women being a minority both in the military and at home. Deployment-related stressors were a focus of responses.Such experiences appeared to influence the women's views of the world and ways of coping. Directors for future research will be discussed.

Learning Areas:

Clinical medicine applied in public health
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Evaluate results from research on risk for suicide among Veterans. Name factors associated with increased risk for suicide. Discuss programs to reduce suicide risk among women Veterans.

Keyword(s): Mental Health Services, Suicide

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a funded researcher in the areas of mental health and suicide prevention, licensed psychologist, and Director of a VA suicide prevention research center.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.